For-Sale Listings Used in Rental Scam

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As we’ve mentioned in previous articles, home sellers are at risk when they put their home on the market. Information about their home is public and even agents don’t always know the warning signs until it’s too late. Below is an article about an issue we’ve come across before. Scammers take the listing information of a home and post it as a rental on other websites. If you are listing your home and you feel like anything is fishy, report it to your agent immediately. It’s better to be safe than sorry!

Daily Real Estate News | June 9, 2011 |

Some home owners are getting a surprise when a person shows up on their doorstep, with a lease agreement in hand, saying that he or she is renting out their home, which isn’t for rent but for sale. Law enforcement and real estate professionals are finding a growing scam involving for-sale listings being promoted as rentals–without home owners’ consent.

Scammers are taking listing information of homes for-sale–including photos–and then re-posting that information on rental sites and tweaking it to pass the home off as a rental. The scammers then use a fake lease agreement and collect rent from unsuspecting consumers. And when the scammers don’t present keys for the property, they give the unsuspecting renter permission to call a locksmith to gain access to the home.

Les Sulgrove, president of the Des Moines Area Association of REALTORS®, recently issued a warning to association members about the scam. He suggested real estate professionals set up Google alerts for the home addresses they’re listing so they’ll learn if their clients’ information is being misused on another site. “All it takes is cutting, pasting, and changing some key pieces of data,” Geoff Greenwood, spokesperson for the Iowa Attorney General’s office, told the Des Moines Register. “People find out the hard way what they paid for wasn’t for sale or for rent.”

Source: “Growing Online Scam Uses Legitimate for-sale Home Listings to Trick Renters,” Des Moines Register (June 5, 2011)